Coffee is one of the most popular psychoactive beverages in the world. It is a pillar of culinary identities across the globe. Almost every nation, region, and culture has a distinctive method for preparing and consuming coffee. There is nothing simple about a cup of coffee, however. The beans in your kitchen are the result of a complex series of interactions involving multinational corporations, roasters, shippers, marketers, and even the farmers who planted the seeds. It is intricate. It is a muddle.
To help you become a more educated consumer of this deliciously bitter elixir, we debunk some of the most prevalent coffee myths and misconceptions.
Check out our other coffee guides, such as the Best Espresso Machines, the Best Latte and Cappuccino Makers, the Best Portable Coffee Makers, the Best Coffee Subscriptions, and the Best Coffee Grinders.
Coffee Is Not Made of Beans
Espresso is not a bean. This is a seed! Technically speaking, it is the endosperm (seed) of a particular type of berry, typically from the coffee plant. Initially, it is covered in a thin red fruit, which is removed during the cleaning process. Until roasting, it is a light silvery green colour.
That does not mean you can grow your own coffee beans and trees. As a result of roasting, the ground and brewed beans are no longer plantable. Even if they were, it takes years for a coffee plant to produce berries containing the coffee bean. In addition, Coffea arabica (the most popular cultivar) grows and thrives in only a handful of locations around the globe. It is a demanding plant with very specific climate requirements, which brings me to my next point.
European Coffee Does Not Come From Europe
Europe does not cultivate coffee beans. It grows in Central and South America, East and West Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Hawaii, and Central and South America. Therefore, if you purchase expensive imported coffee from Italy, France, or any other country outside of these regions, you are likely to receive subpar coffee (unless you live in Italy or France, that is). Therefore, the best-tasting coffee is always roasted just before consumption.
If your coffee beans are labelled as being from Ethiopia, they were grown there. However, if the bag states that the coffee is from Europe, it was likely roasted there, which is undesirable. Roasting brings out the coffee’s flavours, but these flavour compounds begin to degrade shortly after roasting. Coffee roasted outside of your region has likely spent a considerable amount of time in a shipping container or cargo plane. Therefore, by the time it arrives, all the flavours that make Parisian café coffee so delicious have significantly diminished.
Therefore, I recommend purchasing locally roasted coffee beans and grinding them at home (with a burr grinder).
Dark Roast Coffee Do not consume more caffeine.
It is a common misconception that darker coffee is “stronger,” meaning it contains more caffeine. When green coffee enters a roaster, it is merely toasted to varying degrees of doneness, similar to your morning toast.
Blonde roasts are among the lightest roasted beans, and because they are not cooked for as long as medium or dark roasts, they contain more intact caffeine compounds. Since heat accelerates chemical reactions, it also degrades caffeine compounds. Therefore, it follows that the longer a coffee bean is roasted, the less caffeine it will contain when ground and brewed.